BBC News - Education

Latest education news, comment and analysis on schools, colleges, universities, further and higher education and teaching from the Guardian, the world's leading liberal voice
  1. Report says freedom has deteriorated so much that independent monitoring groups should be established

    Hong Kong’s universities, long a beacon of academic freedom, bastions of freewheeling activism and discussion, are under threat and risk losing their internationally respected status, according to a report.

    Universities are increasingly limiting freedom of expression, outspoken professors have been removed from their posts and government-appointed administrators run the schools against the will of the students and staff, Kevin Carrico, a professor at Macquarie University in Australia, writes in a report for the NGO Hong Kong Watch.

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  2. Death of Justin Cheng, third-year law student, adds to toll over past 18 months

    A third-year student at Bristol university is believed to have killed himself – the seventh to have taken his own life in less than 18 months.

    Justin Cheng, a law student from Canada, was found dead on the evening of 12 January, the university confirmed.

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  3. Struggling Rose Hill primary was promised a sponsor back in 2016, but help has never materialised

    Two years ago, Rose Hill primary on the outskirts of Oxford was branded a failing school. Ranked “inadequate” by the schools watchdog Ofsted, it was placed in special measures and staff and parents were told an academy trust would be brought in to turn around the school’s fortunes.

    Two years on – and two education secretaries later – the school is still waiting.

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  4. Researchers say universities with generous policies employ twice the number of women professors

    Better maternity leave could boost British productivity by encouraging qualified women to stay in the workforce, according to researchers who found universities with the most generous maternity leave employed twice the number of women professors compared with those offering the least.

    Vera Troeger, a professor of economics at Warwick University, said her research found that the universities with the best maternity leave policies were better able to retain qualified women who went on to become professors and receive higher pay.

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  5. Research into jobs finds men’s dominance in IT and biotech is reversing trend towards equality

    The gulf between men and women at work – in both pay and status – is likely to widen unless action is taken to tackle inequality in high-growth sectors such as technology, say researchers at this week’s World Economic Forum summit in Davos.

    A new WEF report on the future of jobs finds the dominance of men in industries such as information and biotechnology, coupled with the enduring failure of women to rise to the top even in the health and education sectors, is helping to reverse gender equality after years of improvements.

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  6. Figures show 16% rise in those facing housing debt and a doubling of evictions

    More than 17,000 students living in university halls of residence fell behind with their rent payments in the last year, according to figures that suggest thousands more face financial hardship during their courses.

    There has been a significant 16% rise in the numbers facing rental arrears in university accommodation, new statistics obtained under the Freedom of Information Act reveal. A small but rising number of students are also being evicted from halls or having their tenancies cancelled after falling behind with payments.

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  7. Chris Riddell on asset stripping in academy trusts

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  8. A regular look at the pleasures – and pains – of the English language

    This country has long, and rightly, welcomed immigrants. And not just people. Our language has been enriched in diverse ways by incomers. We would be a poorer place without a leavening of French, Spanish and Italian interlopers. Where would the erudite book review be without “bildungsroman”? And look how useful the word “zeitgeist” has become. I am sure that there are also some useful American imports, although, offhand, they are eluding me at the moment. They all point to our language being ever fluid, ever changing and, for the most part, enhanced. Yet there are some constructions that still grate.

    I hope that in the canon of linguistic crimes you will agree that using nouns as verbs is high on that list. Both “reference” and “impact” recur with nauseating regularity. Only yesterday, I heard a business reporter on TV use “headquarter” as a verb. Then there are the execrable coinages such as “surveill”, “euthanise” and “taxidermied”. What on earth is wrong with “monitor”, “put down” or “stuffed”?

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  9. Jane Bown photographed life in British prep schools for a feature in the colour supplement at a time when state schools were denting pupil numbers

    On the whole, the prep schools of England act cheerfully but sleep uneasily. All except the best and strongest of them feel vulnerable. They suspect that politicians see them as the soft underbelly of the private system. As fees edge up, impecunious parents go over to the State. Small classes are still a strong attraction, but State primary schools don’t carry quite the old stigma in the suburbs.

    Cruellest of all, the prep schools fear that the public schools – the only reason for their existence – would, if pressed politically, abandon them, and settle for State-educated children.

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  10. Chair of governors at St Stephen’s primary school in Newham resigns following complaints from parents

    A primary school that controversially banned pupils from wearing hijabs appears to have backed down after the chair of governors announced his resignation following complaints from parents.

    St Stephen’s primary school in Newham, east London, hit the headlines at the weekend after the Sunday Times reported it had banned Muslim girls under the age of eight from wearing headscarves, to the delight of campaigners who argued it enforces religious conformity on children.

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  11. Extent to which failing trusts are ‘stripping assets from their schools’ is of particular concern

    Parents are being “left in the dark” over who really runs schools in England, according to parliament’s education committee. It has called for the government to overhaul the oversight of academy chains after a string of high-profile failures.

    Robert Halfon, the Conservative MP who chairs the committee, signalled to the the new education secretary, Damian Hinds, that the system of regulation had created overlaps and confusion, allowing some multi-academy trusts (Mats) to escape oversight.

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  12. Number of new graduate jobs falls for first time since financial crisis as leading recruiters downgrade hiring plans

    Uncertainty over Brexit has caused many of the UK’s most prestigious employers to significantly cut their recruitment of graduates, resulting in a fall in the number of new graduate jobs for the first time since the global financial crisis.

    A survey of the UK’s leading 100 graduate recruiters – including Goldman Sachs, Unilever and BP – found many had downgraded their hiring plans after the Brexit referendum vote, with private sector organisations recruiting 10% fewer graduates by the end of 2017.

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  13. Glynis Breakwell had been due to take a sabbatical and give up her job in February 2019

    The body that scrutinises the running of University of Bath has passed a motion calling for the immediate departure of its vice-chancellor following a row about her pay.

    Dame Glynis Breakwell, whose pay package of £468,000 sparked a national debate around vice-chancellors’ pay and how universities are run, agreed to step down in November.

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  14. Learndirect got special treatment to suppress damning assessment of its training, says Ofsted chief

    Britain’s biggest training provider successfully applied for a superinjunction that stopped official inspectors from passing on a critical report to the government, it has emerged.

    It allowed Learndirect, which is mostly funded by the Department for Education, to suppress a damning assessment of its training for four months, Ofsted’s chief inspector, Amanda Spielman, told the House of Commons public accounts committee.

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  15. The crash of 2008, not Stalinists in our universities, caused the sense of alienation among students

    Are student Red Guards about to storm the quads of Oxbridge colleges? Do young people think that famines and purges and mass executions are good? Apparently so.

    A ComRes poll last week showed that young people worry more about capitalism than communism: 9% of 18- to 24-year-olds thought communists were “the most dangerous in the world today” while 24% thought it was “big business”.

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  16. Giving students university admissions points for skills such as dance and music as well as A-level grades restricts choice and hinders social mobility

    The university application season has just drawn to a close. I’ve met thousands of potential students at university open days, as they arrive bright-eyed at the prospect of their new lives on campus. It’s always an exciting, hopeful period. But once it’s over, I’m left wondering whether I should tell them about what really happens behind the scenes after A-level results are announced.

    I work at a leading university. Like many others, we pay close attention to university league tables. Although these tables are designed to help students choose what university is best for them, in reality some of them restrict student choice and hold back widening participation. The problem lies in the metrics, notably entry tariff scores, which reflect more than students’ A-level results. This score is the decisive factor in who gets in and who gets turned down.

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  17. Black students are 1.5 times more likely to drop out than their white and Asian counterparts. Understanding why is vital

    Kaya is one of a worrying number of black higher-education students who have failed to make it to graduation day. A recent study found that 10.3% of black students quit university early in England, compared with 6.9% for the student population as a whole.

    “I had so many racially-tinted, miserable experiences at my university,” says Kaya, who has asked the Guardian not to use her real name. “My male housemate used to say the ‘n-word’ in front of me, bragged about the fact he’d once racially abused a man in a club, and was so aggressive when I asked him to stop. Yet when I told my university counsellor, she said I couldn’t know for sure if my housemate was actually racist... that I needed to live and let live.”

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  18. An in-depth knowledge of an arts or science subject is an advantage to young lawyers, experts advise

    Studying law. That’s like medicine, isn’t it – you need to decide early that you want to be a lawyer and make sure you do the right subjects at school?

    Actually, not quite. Law firms don’t ask that you study law as your first degree, and they don’t mind what A-levels you do. Their only requirement is high grades. Laura Yeates, head of graduate talent at the prestigious law firm Clifford Chance, says the split between their solicitors who do a law degree and those who study something else is about 50:50.

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  19. Teachers are rebelling and companies refusing to tender for a planned assessment of infants in England that many say will crowd out play

    It’s a chill, sunny winter’s day with seagulls soaring on a stiff breeze, and small children wrapped up against the cold are serving from a kitchen in the outside play area at Friars primary school and nursery at Shoeburyness on the Essex coast. On the menu are soup, jacket potatoes, jelly and juice – all made of mud.

    As a teacher observes and questions, these happy four- and five-year-olds are learning through play the foundations of literacy, numeracy and writing: phonics as they sound out the letters on their menu, fine motor skills as they shape mud and numbers as they count the things needed for their “cooking”.

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  20. The regulator – brought into the spotlight by Toby Young – has only one student on its board. We asked those it seeks to represent what the priorities should be

    It has been a rocky start for the Office for Students, the government’s new regulator for the higher education sector in England, launched to champion the interests of students. It has already faced criticism for having only one student on the board and has lost Toby Young, who resigned as a board member after an outcry over tweets that suggested more interest in regulating women’s cup sizes than university teaching quality. So what would students like to see from the body that seeks to represent them?

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  21. The average salary for bosses at the 24 Russell Group universities has been revealed – but not everyone thinks they’re worth the cash

    Name: £332,000

    Also known as: A Sue Barker, an Eddie Mair or a Lauren Laverne.

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  22. Historians need to ditch their aversion to public discourse. By looking to the past, they can teach us about our future

    • Cormac Shine is a societal researcher at UBS thinktank and historian. He writes in a personal capacity

    Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen a surge in civic engagement after decades of apathy. Just as established media outlets have a renewed sense of purpose, in academia, too, social scientists find themselves publicly confronting the social dynamics and technological disruptions that have led to our changing politics and society.

    But historians are almost entirely absent from this conversation, barring the efforts of Yuval Noah Harari and a few others. In their manifesto for historians, Jo Guldi and David Armitage lament that experts in the field are reluctant to engage with contemporary debates on an ambitious scale, with many favouring narrow specialisation, and arcane disputes far removed from the concerns of society in the present and future.

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  23. Education journalist Fran Abrams tackles 10 of the most challenging questions about universities by looking at the latest research

    The last year in higher education has seen misconceptions abound in the media. Here’s everything you need to know to set the record straight, based on new research findings you may have missed.

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  24. Academia should be collaborative, not competitive. So why do I feel like some junior colleagues are rushing to tear each other’s work apart online?

    I had always imagined academia to be a collegial environment. I pictured teams of researchers putting heads together to solve real-world problems, collaborating on new discoveries. After completing my PhD, I realised it was more about academics competing against each other for grants and jobs. Even then, I thought optimistically that our shared experiences of unsuccessful applications might bond us together. But a recent experience online has confirmed for me that, actually, it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there.

    Earlier this year, I published a book based on my research but aimed at the general reader to supplement my income from academic work. A few months after publication, I was idly scrolling through the Facebook page for an academic group I’m a member of, and caught sight of my name on a new post. It was from a young academic researcher, publicly proclaiming that my book was “useless”. Another researcher responded, and what started as an attack based on my book’s lack of endnotes – which they viewed as unacademic – descended into a personal attack on me.

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  25. A new code aims to move the media spotlight away from vice-chancellor pay by increasing transparency. But to work, the overhaul must be radical

    • Mike Ratcliffe is an academic administrator at the University of Oxford

    High vice-chancellor pay has captured the public imagination this year. This isn’t a new issue: there’s been an escalator effect for years, linking senior pay to rising tuition fees, while pay for the rest of staff remains static. Suddenly, subject to public scrutiny, universities have been forced to take action with a new voluntary code asking them to justify senior pay over 8.5 times the institution’s average salary. But first, remuneration committees will have to take a long, hard look at themselves and tackle the processes that have led to swelling salaries.

    How did we get to this point? As the executive head of the university, vice-chancellors are answerable to their governors, who are normally a mix of internal and external members. A subset of those governors form a remuneration committee and this is where the problems with pay-setting start.

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  26. Jo Johnson has swept off the stage leaving behind him a jittery sector, battered by radical policy changes and media hostility

    Universities minister used to be an easy job, by ministerial standards. Unlike schools, prisons, local government or the health service, the office rarely held much direct power over its sector. The funding councils, combined with a tradition of self-regulation, formed a barrier between ministerial demands and institutional activity.

    The job was often given to an up-and-coming backbencher hoping to move on to greater things, though sometimes it was farmed out to a wonkish, technocratic sort; the sort of minister reluctant to appear on newspaper front pages but happy to manage civil servants and behave soberly at the ceremonial openings of new laboratories or lecture theatres.

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  27. Read the T&Cs here before sending in your entry

    1. The Guardian University Awards (the “Awards”) recognise excellence in the UK’s best universities and is open to all recognised higher education institutes and university professionals in the UK. The Awards are not open to employees or agencies of Guardian News and Media Limited (“GNM”), GNM group companies or their family members, or anyone else connected with the creation or administration of the Awards. All entrants must have a registered office in the UK or have a place of business in the UK.

    2. Entrants to the Awards shall be deemed to have accepted these terms and conditions. For more information about the awards, please see here including the Awards FAQ page.

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  28. Find out all you need to know about entering and how the judging process is run

    Who can enter?
    Any representative of higher education institutions (those with degree awarding powers) in the United Kingdom.

    How much does it cost to enter?
    It costs £250 for one entry and £150 for every entry after that. If you enter before 31 January you can save £50 on your first entry, the early bird rate is: £200 for one entry. There are also a number of offers for higher entry numbers, please see the Guardian University Awards entry page for more detail.

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